Study Guide: The Hope That Changes The World

Sunday December 20, 2015 | Greg Boyd, Seth McCoy

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Waiting is really difficult, no matter who you are or what you’re waiting for. We see examples over and over in scripture of characters who waited well and others who struggled and tried to take things in to their own hands. In this message Seth explores what it means to wait in hopeful anticipation for Jesus’ coming this Christmas season.

Extended Summary:

The season of Advent is centered on the idea of waiting. We wait for a lot of things in our life: we wait for change in ourselves, we wait for breakthrough in prayer, we wait for people we know and love to come to Christ, or we wait for physical healing. But the season of advent is about waiting in hopeful anticipation for Jesus’ coming. We live in a world of “not yet.” Jesus has come, but His Kingdom has not fully come on Earth as it is in Heaven.

There are lots stories in the bible about people waiting. Many of the Psalms are narratives of authors waiting on God to intervene, to do something about their current struggle. There are stories of characters waiting well, and then other stories where people took their struggle in to their own hands not trusting God in His promises. God gave Abraham and Sara a promise about having a son and being the mother and father of a nation. After 10 years of waiting, unfortunately their patience ran out and they decided to take the promise in to their own hands. They couldn’t take the “not yet” anymore and Abraham and their maidservant conceived Ishmael. The battle between Isaac and Ishmael would end up being a struggle for the Jewish nation for generations to come.

There is another story in the beginning of the book of Luke about a devout man named Simeon. It had been nearly 500 years since the nation of Isreal had heard the voice of God and they were waiting in anticipation of a promised Messiah. Simeon waited well and eventually got to see God’s promise in the person of Jesus. Whether we wait well or not, the process is difficult. Patience is not something that comes naturally, it takes discipline to develop. The question when you’re waiting is will you take matters in to your own hands like Abraham and Sara did, or will you wait in hopefully anticipation trusting in the Lord’s promise like Simeon.

There are other stories as well, like the parable Jesus tells of the builders. The builder who uses a foundation of rock symbolizes trusting in God while the foundation of sand represents trusting in our own ability to solve our problems – a “do it yourself” foundation. For the life I’m building the question is “can I trust God?” Is He trustworthy? Has He proved Himself faithful? Just as the Isrealites were instructed to remember, so also we grow in our hope when we remember what God has done in our life. We remember where He has met us in our darkest moments and brought us in to the light through His grace and forgiveness. Remembering is the only way we’re going to grow in our capacity to be faithful and full of hope.

John the Baptist was called to prepare the way for Jesus. In the same way at a personal level we can ask ourselves the same question: How am I doing preparing the way for my King to come? If He’s coming, shouldn’t we build a fitting path for Him? We can build trust with God by being trustworthy people. We get on the same page now so we won’t have a difficult time when His Kingdome fully comes. Straightening out our crooked path and getting on the same page as Jesus is part of bringing the Kingdom to Earth. We are waiting for the day when Jesus makes footstools of the enemies of violence, racism, and poverty, and we speed that day’s coming by partnering with Him now in how we wait.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Were there any sections of scripture discussed that need more clarification? What parts did you not understand?
  2. Why is waiting so difficult? At a surface level? At a deeper level?
  3. How am I doing, both individually and in my community, preparing the way for the king?
  4. How have the times you’ve waited well impacted your life? What about the times when you’ve taken things in to your own hands not trusting?